A Unique Point of View
By: Christina Campbell

Chapter 4

Al turned around as he heard the Imaging Chamber door open.  "Rachel?"

She was looking around.  He was standing in a park, watching a woman 
for Sam.  Of course, she could only see the IC.  "You asked to see me?  
Why here?"

Al looked at her carefully. "Just needed some company, and Sam asked me 
to watch her."  Al started as Rachel deliberately walked around a park 
bench that was between them.

Apparently unaware of what she had just done, Rachel said, "Who?"

"The friend of his host that's in trouble.  You just walked around that 
park bench. Can you see?"

She looked around.  "Kind of.  It's out of focus and blurry, though."

He frowned at her, and punched some stuff on the handlink.  "You're not 
supposed to be able to see."

"I didn't think I was either.  Ziggy know why?"

"She's not saying anything."

Rachel put her hand on his shoulder.  "That's much better.  Sharp and 
clear.  It makes me nauseous when things are blurry. Um . . . I can 
hear things, too.  That's also supposed to be impossible, right?"

"Right. Could you hear before you touched me?"

"I don't know.  I wasn't paying attention."

"Let's talk to Sam."


Al shrugged.  "Because, while I understand how this hologram thing 
works, he invented it."

"But he's swiss-cheesed!"

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean he's lost everything.  He's come up with 
some memories of his life and his former Leaps that have surprised me 
sometimes.  It won't hurt to ask.  Gooshie, center me on Sam!"


Rachel blinked as the image abruptly changed.  "You ever get used to 

"After a while."

A man looked around and over at Al, then did a double-take when he saw 
Rachel, who still had her hand on his shoulder.  "Al, who is that?"

"I'm Rachel Thorton."  She smiled shyly at him.

He recoiled as he realized that she had heard him and he could hear 

Al looked back and forth between the two of them.  "That's what we 
wanted to talk to you about.  She really isn't supposed to be able to 
talk to you."

Sam took on a thoughtful expression.  "I know.  Miss Thorton, would you 
be willing to take an EEG?"

She tilted her head.  "To see if my brainwaves match up with yours or 
Al's?  And call me Rachel."

"Then I'm Sam, and yes, that's the most likely scenario.  Of course, it 
could be something else.  One never knows."

Al looked over at Rachel.  "I'd like to try something."  She nodded and 
he moved away from her.  "Sam, what do you see?"

"I see a very fuzzy image, like I'm looking through clouded glass to 
see her.   She's only sharp when she's in contact with you?"

"Yeah. Rachel, did you hear him?"

"Almost.  Like someone playing music two apartments away.  You know 
it's there, but you can't understand."

Al smiled at her.  "Why don't you go talk to Ziggy and the others about 
this, and take that EEG?  I'm curious now."

She nodded, waved at Sam, then left as Al opened the IC door for her.

Sam waved back as he watched the fuzzy image of her leave.  "Al, what 
did she say?  I couldn't really hear her."

"Only that she couldn't really hear you.  I'll go watch that girl some 
more."  Al added a suggestive grin to the simple statement that made 
Sam roll his eyes up to the heavens.


"Ziggy, how much of that did you follow?"  Rachel said as she stepped 
out of the IC.

Both Tina and Gooshie looked up at her curiously.

"Most of it, Rachel.  Will you be taking the EEG?"

"Yeah.  It'd be a good idea.  Tina, quit looking at me like that."

Tina rolled her eyes.  "What, like, happened in there?"

"I could see the hologram before touching Al--"


"And I could hear S--Dr. Beckett when we went to talk to him about it."

"That's not supposed to happen!"

"No kidding.  So I'm gonna take an EEG.  You know Al.  He'd keep 
working till he dropped, and has to because he's the only one that can 
contact Sam.  It'd be really cool if I could substitute for him 
occasionally.  Not that he'd let me do it that often, but maybe when he 
can't be here--"

Tina shook her head.  "Rachel, break that one to him gently."

Rachel grinned. "No kidding."


Sam looked around at the party going on, assessing clothes and trying 
to place himself in time.  [Hmm... Early eighties.]  He moved to the 
window to try to locate the place.

A voice behind him said "Sam, you are Frank Hannod.  It's April 16, 
1981 and you are in Sacramento."

Sam spun around.  The voice hadn't been Al's.  The woman standing 
behind him looked vaguely familiar.  "Oh, boy," he muttered.

She smiled at him.  "I'm Rachel Thorton, and before you get all 
panicky, Al was called to Washington last night.  Somehow--Ziggy isn't 
quite sure why--my brain patterns match up enough for me to Observe 
this Leap without any major adjustments or power drain."  She tilted her 
head.  "Al has been informed that you've Leaped, but it might be a while 
before he can get back.  I'll do my best to help out."

A woman came up to Sam.  "Frank, honey, are you OK?"

Rachel punched a couple buttons on the handlink.  "That's Louise, your 

"Just fine, Louise."  Sam smiled at her uncertainly.  She led him back 
to the party.

Rachel followed, filling Sam in on Frank's life.  Several times, she 
hit the handlink in a manner that was so familiar that Sam had to hide 
a smile. [This thing with Rachel is going to require a lot of answers, 
but at least I don't have to drag information out of her.]


Rachel sagged against the inside of the IC door.  Al had gotten back 
about ten minutes before Sam had Leaped out.  She had told Sam that Al 
would be there when he landed, and then Sam was gone.  It had actually 
been a short Leap, as these things go, but she was tired.

She left the IC just in time to see Al enter the Control Room.  "Sam?"
"He Leaped.  I told him you'd meet him on the other side. Your office?"

"Anytime."  He said it rather suggestively.  It wasn't the first time 
he'd done something like that, and if it hadn't been for her watching 
so much of the show, she would have been offended.  Normally she just 
ignored it as a personality quirk, or played off it while making sure 
he knew she wasn't serious, but this time she wasn't in the mood for 

She drew herself up and looked him steadily in the eyes.  His eyes 
widened as she let him see the contempt she had for that kind of 
behavior from most men.  But also hidden in that silent exchange was an 
understanding.  He lowered his gaze as she made it abundantly clear 
that she knew exactly why he acted toward women the way he did and that 
she knew it was an ingrained and immovable part of his character.  She 
smiled at him slightly as he turned and left the room.

Tina was gaping at the silent exchange.  "What did you do?"

"I told him that I understood."

Tina blinked.  Rachel smiled enigmatically and followed Al.


Rachel was working on the retrieval program again, when Verbena came to 
see her.  "Rachel?"


"You really confused Tina the other day."

"You mean that thing with Al?"

"Would you please explain your comment?  I've been trying to understand 
Al for the last 8 or 9 years."

Rachel bit her lip, then looked up at Verbena.  "I can't, 'Bena.  I'm 
sorry.  Not with out Al's permission.  And good luck getting that."

"Not even if I promise not to use it professionally?"

Rachel shook her head.  Verbena left, looking a little miffed.

Ziggy spoke up.  "Can you tell me?"

Rachel considered this for a second.  "For your reference purposes. Do 
not tell anyone--including Verbena and Al."

Ziggy paused, as if considering.  "For reference purposes, then."

Rachel looked at the ceiling, considering her words.  "Al's flashy.  He 
wears the most outrageous clothes and says the most outrageous things.  
He does it so that no one can see the inside.  Inside he's got long, 
deep silences and very old, unhealed wounds.  They're sore, so he makes 
sure no one can touch them.  Only two people have ever been underneath 
the brightness: Sam--and Beth.  And both of them have all but 
disappeared on him."


A few days later, Rachel ate lunch with Tina, for lack of anyone else.  
Tina carried most of the conversation, for which Rachel was just as 
glad.  She wasn't in the mood to talk, and listening didn't take much 
energy.  As they left the Cafeteria together, Rachel realized 

"I haven't seen Donna for days.  Do you know where she is?"

Tina gave her a blank look.  "Donna?"

Rachel took in that glance with dawning realization.  "Never mind."

Tina looked strangely at her for a moment, then shrugged and moved to 
the elevators.

Rachel headed the other direction toward her lab. [I suppose it's just 
as well.  Sam is going to fall in love several times in the near 
future. Tamlyn, especially. Donna doesn't need to deal with that.]


Rachel was getting increasingly frustrated with the stubborn programs.  
It had been over six months since she Donna had disappeared, and she 
was missing the conversations they had had.  She was about to really 
devolve into feeling sorry for herself when Al came up to her with a 
look of wonder on his face.

"I can't believe it!  He's me!"

Startled out of her mood, Rachel laughed.  "Yes.  'Ain't that a kick in 
the butt.'" She mimicked his tones perfectly.  "Al--"


She opened her mouth, then shut it again.  When she spoke, she had 
obviously changed what she was going to say.  "Just be careful what you 
tell Bingo."

"Of course."  Then he blinked.  "I never told you that I used to be 
called 'Bingo.'"

She raised an eyebrow significantly, and grinned at him.

"Oh.  Sorry.  I'd almost forgotten."


Rachel watched with amusement as Bingo leered at Tina, but was very 
careful to keep it off her face.  When Al looked over at her and 
winked, she almost lost it.

After they had questioned him, she went back to her room.  "Ziggy, ask 
Al if you can pipe their conversation down to me.  I'd like to hear 
what's going on."

"You will only be able to hear Al's side of the conversation."

"I know.  I'd still like to hear it."

After a short while, Rachel was listening in.

"Well, we brought me--Bingo--into the Control Room..." Al's grin was 
almost visible. "...Tina swept him off his feet...Well, Ziggy says that 
there's something in your--my--Bingo's car that'll settle it...That's 
what she says."  There was a shrug in the statement.  There was a long 
pause--they were obviously going down to the car, and searching it.  
Finally Al spoke up again. "Ziggy says that it's probably something in 
the car, though the car itself will do it." There was another long 
pause.  "What is it?"

Rachel listened as the rest of the situation played out as it had in 
Leap for Lisa, wondering curiously over the similarities and 
differences in Sam's and Al's points of view on this Leap.


Sammy-Jo burst into Rachel's lab with an exuberant grin on her face.  
"I've got it!  I think we can get him back!"

Rachel's eyes went wide as she spun around.  "Tell me about it, and let 
me try to poke holes in it.  Start with the general theory before you 
get down into the math behind it."

Sammy-Jo picked up the piece of string that had been floating around 
Rachel's lab.  They often used it as the String Theory representation 
when they were really stuck.  "OK.  This is Sam's life, and it's all 
jumbled up or he wouldn't be Leaping, right?  So, every time he Leaps, 
he is ejected from one piece of the strand and pulled into another.  
Right now, he could be any direct 'distance' from us.  He could be one 
strand away or on the other side of the whole mess.  If we can generate 
a 'pull' toward us, he should Leap into a string that's closer to us.  
The next time he Leaps, we pull again, and we keep doing that until he 
shows up back here."  She had been demonstrating with the balled up 

The two women discussed and argued about the math involved for the rest 
of the afternoon and through most of dinner.  Al noticed that they 
seemed particularly excited, and sat down at the table with them.  
"Anything interesting?"

Sammy-Jo grinned.  "A new retrieval theory.  We're still arguing out 
the math, double-checking before we get deep into the actual logistics 
and programming."

Al's smile was one of the few genuine ones that Rachel had ever seen.  
"Then I'll leave you two to your discussion.  When you've got the 
details hammered out, talk to me.  I'll try to find things wrong with 
it myself, then you can get to work on making it real."

The next afternoon they were in his office.  He listened to their 
entire presentation, asked a few questions, then thought for a bit.  
"How do we know it's working? With the other retrieval programs, it 
either worked, or it didn't, and we knew immediately.  With this, he 
Leaps out, we pull him, and he Leaps back in.  How do we prove that 
he's closer to home?"

Sammy-Jo's eyes went distant.  "Could we map the string?"

Rachel tilted her head, and squinted a bit.  "We use all the data on 
the Leaps, including transit time, and map it in some higher-
dimensional space.  We might be able to.  Can't know until we try."
Al nodded.  "Fine.  You two work with Ziggy on that proof, and get the 
programming started."

They nodded, and left.  He heard the two of them start to fire ideas at 
each other even as the door shut.

Credit where credit is due:  Some of my IC ideas come from Dana 
Anderson's 'Convergence.'


Feedback requested!  What do you think of my story?

Christina C.